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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
The action takes place in the near present (pre-2020), with scenes in flashback in italics.

They may not mean to, but they do - 30. Thirty

Saturday, Thomas had to be up early to go to work as their project was happening throughout the weekend. He was getting a lift again, and Keith, having got up as well, saw Thomas get into a plush Audi driven by a handsome 30-something guy. Keith’s heart gave a slight lurch, but he told himself not to be stupid, it was a work colleague and got on with fixing the van.

It proved a profitable day, mainly sorting out the van and giving it a throughout clean, inside and out. Which led to him tidying paperwork, as well as his tools and spares. He had just showered and was drying off when he heard a car. It was Thomas being dropped off by the same Audi, and this time Thomas and the man exchanged a kiss. Keith tried to say it was his imagination, but the kiss seemed to go on longer than it should have. And Thomas was carrying a present.

Saturday evening was quiet, Thomas preoccupied with work and Keith replaying the scene from earlier. Sunday was no better, IKEA and a neighbouring homewares store seemed to be out of everything on Thomas’ list that he needed for the flat. It wasn’t helped by a series of calls from work, and finally, Thomas apologised, and mid-afternoon sped off. Leaving Keith feeling stupid and bereft.

He couldn’t settle to anything and was just checking over what he needed for his week’s jobs when Bart appeared from their back door and said hi. Keith asked if he could have a word and found himself in Bart and Greg’s sleek kitchen with coffee and home-made cookies.

Having got there, Keith felt stupid, and it was difficult to put his vague feelings into words. Was he jealous, anxious? Was it his imagination? Story over, it all seemed a bit bald, and he got up to go, apologising, but Bart stopped him with a strange question?

“Did you and your girlfriend have problems like this, seeing other people and such?”

Keith nodded, “I’m sure she had other blokes, and I did stuff, gay stuff.”

“The cottage you were telling us about?”

Keith nodded again, “I didn’t cope very well, and hid it from Maria”, he looked at his hands. “I should have said something. Things weren’t working very well between us?”

“Sex?”

“Well, both in the bedroom and out.”

“Did you talk about it?”

Keith shook his head, “I were too scared.”

Bart was silent for a bit. “Look, Greg and I have been through some bad patches. We even tried having an open relationship at one point.” He rolled his eyes, “But it didn’t suit us. What we have always done is talk about it. Always. My Mum used to say that the secret of a long marriage was never to go to bed angry with each other. And there’s something in that.” Keith nodded. “So, talk to Thomas, tonight. Thomas isn’t your girlfriend, Maria, he’s different. And so are you, you’ve learned a lot. So, talk.”

Keith was a bit scared, he’d always dealt with problems by packaging them away, to be dealt with later. But when Thomas got back Keith was almost waiting for him.

-oOo-oOo-

‘You’re late’.

Maria’s comment thankfully wasn’t snarky but still pointed. Keith couldn’t see that it mattered because the pub was still empty, and her mates hadn’t appeared. Perhaps that was the problem, Keith was supposed to entertain her till the others showed up.

He explained that the guys from work had been going for a drink and that things had taken longer than he thought. All true, but there was something else as well, he’d stopped off at the cottage. He’d told himself that he needed a piss, but in reality, something else drew him to watching the guys stroking themselves.

Watch was all he did, so it was OK, wasn’t it? That surely didn’t mean he was gay.

Keith couldn’t say why he did it, and each time he visited the place he felt guilty and heard his Dad yelling at him about filthy queers. If his Dad could see him stood at a grimy urinal, almost overwhelmed by the stench, watching two other guys stroking each other, a look of intense, serious concentration on their faces.

The problem was, IT had started to seep into other areas of life. Keith still didn’t think what IT was. But the images from his visits to cottages were burned on his brain, they would feed fevered dreams when he’d wake up sweating, and once he’d had a wet dream, something that he’d not done in years.

And the other night, in bed with Maria, the image of a guy he’d seen pleasuring himself appeared without thinking in his brain. So, by the end, though he’d been making love to Maria, the person in his head was the guy he’d seen.

He didn’t want to be gay, it was evil and wrong, disgusting just like the cottages he went to. Normal guys didn’t do things like that, did they?

He’d got a good girlfriend and a steady job, what more could he want?

It’s not that he didn’t enjoy it, and he’d never had an embarrassing failure, he’d always delivered. But seeing a guy was somehow more compelling, more exciting. And the idea of doing it, in a bed, with a guy set off something technicolour in Keith, immediately followed by a sense of guilt and shame, and the nagging worry that he’d be found out.

-oOo-oOo-

“Can we talk”.

Thomas’ rather weary, flippant comment died on his lips when he saw Keith’s face. Instead, they went into Thomas’ flat, sat in the new IKEA chairs in the kitchen area and Thomas opened what looked like a brand new, bottle of very expensive single malt whisky and handed a drink to Keith.

“I saw you getting out of that Audi yesterday, and kissing the bloke, the guy from the company supporting the project who’s been giving you lifts.”

“Marco.”

Keith nodded, “I wasn’t spying, I just happened to see and, well, it seemed to go on too long.” He looked down at his hands. “It’s been going round and round in me head. I know I’m being stupid. But…”

Thomas looked at him, took his hands and kissed him, “You’re not being stupid. And the kiss was a bit more than for a friend. Marco is an ex- of mine.” Keith’s eyes widened at the news but before he could say anything Thomas plunged on, “It was years and years back, and wasn’t for long. Marco isn’t one of those guys who stay for long, he’s always looking for pastures new. So, it was fun at the time, but I have no plans to revive it. At all.”

Keith went a bit red, “Sorry. I should have …”

Thomas stopped him, “But I think Marco thought that with his weekend up here and me being the director of the charity his company is supporting, he’d be on to a nice little number. A warm bed and a friendly face and that.”

Keith’s mouth dropped, “Oh”, and was a picture.

“Close your mouth before you catch flies!” The two laughed, breaking the mood. “I told him no, firmly, but he was a bit flirty, as you saw. And he bought me that”, Thomas gestured to the whisky.

“Pricey.”

“Precisely, supposedly a ‘moving in gift’ but more of a sweetener, I think. And he needed to do a lot of sweetening. Besides Marco’s flirting, things haven’t gone well, the company’s support turned out not to be what we expected.”

“Sorry, I didn’t realise.”

“It’s OK. I was so wound up with it that I didn’t think to tell you. Suffice it to say that the promised PR and marketing support from the company didn’t happen, as a consequence, audiences were not as good as we thought they’d be, and Marco, as the charity’s partner, proved very demanding.” He grinned, “So, not a good weekend all round.”

They drank the whisky in silence for a bit. “I chatted to Bart about it; he was about, and I couldn’t think who else I’d talk to.”

“What about your mates?”

Keith opened his eyes wide, “Hardly, we don’t really share that sort of detail.”

“Except as a joke or something.”

Keith nodded, “Bart said that you and I should talk, it was important.”

“Good advice”, he took Keith’s hands again, “and something we should both try to follow. Agreed?”

“Agreed. The thing is, Maria and I never talked. Not like that. I was too unsure and too scared to talk about having feelings for guys, the sex didn’t work, and I was embarrassed to mention that, and I started going to the cottage regularly and felt guilty. She’d go out for girly evenings, but sometimes I think there might have been the odd bloke.”

“And you daren’t talk to her about it because you felt you were cheating too?”

Keith nodded.

“I should have warned you about Marco, sorry, and you should have said something yesterday. OK?”

“OK”

“And I’m famished, how about you?”

Thomas got up to get some food, but Keith stood up too and hugged him. So, it was some time before the food.

Copyright © 2024 Robert Hugill; All Rights Reserved.
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This is one of my earliest stories and I remain rather fond of Keith and Thomas. There are something over 30 chapters to share; as ever, I am always delighted to hear from readers with comments and suggestions.
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Great and succinct portrayal of the importance of communication and the courage it takes to do so!  Keith has lived in his head for so long that it's taking time and effort to get out of it.  Thomas is certainly the person he needs in his life, and vice versa!

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And our boys learn the importance of talking to each other, not at or past each other, honest communication in any relationship prevents issues that may fester/linger!!

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